With more than 30 child sexual abuse cases reported with RENEW and in the media, almost one child abuse was reported every week this year.

This was shared yesterday in Thimphu when the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women was observed in the country.

Addressing more than 500 people who had gathered to observe the day, executive director of RENEW, Tandin Wangmo said this year was heartbreaking for RENEW and parents.

According to cases reported with RENEW and those in the media, almost one case of child sexual abuse was reported a week with a total of 35 cases reported until early this month this year. The highest number of cases, 17, was reported from Gelephu with the RENEW’s volunteer alone this year.  “If there was a such thing called award for child sexual abuse, it should go for the people of Gelephu this year,” Tandin Wangmo said.

Last year, nine cases related to child sexual abuse was reported, which was about one case a month.

“We need to get more stringent while handling child abuse. This has to be a collective effort,” she said. 

Research shows that a trauma of a child sexually abused is equivalent to the trauma faced by children living in war torn areas,” said Tandin Wangmo.

The day also launched “Bhutan pilot: addressing violence against women and children” which is aimed to eliminate all forms of violence against women and children in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation.

It is also aimed to test comprehensive pilot to demonstrate how the rules and regulation for the Domestic Violence and Prevention Act of Bhutan can be put into practice in a coordinated method to deliver results at the community level.

While agreeing to all the findings and stories shared at the event by the officials concerned, Lyonchhen Dr Lotey Tshering asked about who to be blamed for this situation.

“It’s us, men. Men are the perpetrators here. Let us take personal responsibilities and let’s not point fingers to policies,” he said. “Our policies are good enough and strong enough to not let these things happen but we lack a personal commitment. We are the perpetrator not them. Let us not contribute to this but let’s create a much healthier society.”

Tandin Wangmo said that in the country, protection systems concentrate primarily on secondary and tertiary prevention, which means that the assistance arrives after the violent act has already occurred.

The pilot project would test localised adaptations of evidence based primary prevention, which will be documented, and rigorously evaluated enabling further refinement and scaled up across the country.

The intervention will be carried out in Babesa, Thimphu, which was selected as per the findings made by NCWC’s study on violence against women and administrative report from stakeholders concerned.

According to a study conducted on violence against women in 2012, one third of the ever-partnered women experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetime.

The prevalence rate in rural areas, 40.4 percent was found to be close to double that of prevalence rate in urban areas, which was 25.2 percent.

Records with RENEW show that 3.1 percent of women experiencing sexual violence are between 15-19 years with 80 percent experiencing it more than once. Perpetrators of all forms of violence include father, stepfather, relatives, teachers and soldiers. Those who were sexually abused are between nine to 19 years.

The project will involve caregivers, family members, teachers, health care providers, youth and social service workers. The initiative focuses on promoting safe, happy, and equitable families.

The event also saw a play performed by a group of artists from Royal Academy of Performing Arts titled Hear me too. The play highlighted the situation of women working in drayang and showed the importance of making right choices that help find honour and dignity in their profession.

Her Majesty the Gyalyum Sangay Choden Wangchuck graced the event.